Not enough doctors or not enough needs? Refocusing health workforce planning from providers and services to populations and needs
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The importance of allocating services in accordance with population needs is well-established. Needs-based approaches to geographical resource allocation were established in the National Health Service in the UK in the 1970s, but the role of population needs has not extended to planning for the quantity and mix of health care services or for the providers required to deliver these services. We present a framework that integrates health service and workforce planning focused on responding to population needs. Using data from the General Household Survey for England over the period 1985-2006, we illustrate trends in health needs and service use per capita. Despite needs per capita falling, service use has increased. Rates of increase in service use are greater among those with less needs illustrating that, in the absence of appropriate planning methods, increases in service use may result from supplier influence rather than policy decisions.
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